What's Left Of Saab Scrambles To Find New Owner Before Its Current, Debt-Riddled One Implodes

Evergrande could soon collapse and take China's real-estate market with it. It also owns Saab, because of course it does.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
A Saab 9-3 Viggen parked near the sea.
Happier times
Photo: Saab

Nothing good ever happens to Saab. I pray this immutable fact will one day no longer hold true, that there’s a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel for a name that’s been dragged through the worst. But that day hasn’t come yet as NEVS, the handler of Saab’s assets and trade name, is desperately searching for a new owner or at least funding before it’s crushed under the weight of Evergrande’s imminent failure.

The news was reported late last week by Reuters, which quoted NEVS boss Stefan Tilk as saying several investors have displayed interest in the company and that it has funds to last “for a good while.”

Tilk said that NEVS is discussing a potential sale or other financing mainly with European and U.S. firms, but declined to name them.

“We are in dialogue both with venture people and companies that have the same idea and direction as us and want to get into this with our full competence,” he told Reuters. “So they are both industrial partners and venture capitalists.”


What makes this all the more tragic for Saab’s future — or lack thereof — is that Evergrande happens to be China’s second-largest property developer that’s spread itself so thin between its real estate, spring water, tourism, healthcare and EV businesses that NEVS is probably no higher than #47 on the list of the time bomb’s worries right now. Did I mention it also poured cash into Faraday Future?

The New York Times reported today that the conglomerate is “on the edge of collapse” mired under more than $300 billion of debt. But the Chinese government is playing its cards close to its chest, neglecting to run news about the company in media to quell concern that it might not bother bailing Evergrande out.

So far, the approach seems to be working. While speculation about Evergrande’s fate has remained a popular topic on social media, the tenor of the discussions does not seem overly alarmed, Professor Shi said. When the U.S. secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, urged China to act “responsibly” in managing Evergrande earlier this month, citing the potential global ramifications, many on Weibo joked that Mr. Blinken must have invested in the company.


Meanwhile, it seems Evergrande may as well have forgotten NEVS even exists. Earlier this month, Bloomberg shed light on the deterioration of things over at NEVS’ Trollhättan factory, where Saab was formerly based. Evergrande “recently missed salary payments to some employees, [has] fallen behind on paying suppliers and even stopped free lunches for workers at its research center.” Before that, in August, it fired about half of NEVS’ 650 employees.

It sounds like it’d be for the best, then, if NEVS could find itself a new corporate parent, because just about anyone sounds more trustworthy than the current one. The EV making unit, including Saab’s assets, reportedly may be valued at up to $1 billion. If you happen to have a spare billion lying around, maybe do everyone a favor and rescue Saab, please?